Middle English Pronunciation Pages

For Dr. McDonald's History of The English Language Class

 Click on the "&" symbol to play each individual line.  Click here to play 1st 18 lines.

Canterbury Tales

General Prologue

Lines 1-18
Whan that Aprille, with his shoures soote,                                        &

The droghte of March hath perced to the roote                               &

 And bathed every veyne in swich licour,                                           &

Of which vertu engendred is the flour;                                                &

Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth                                           &

Inspired hath in every holt and heeth                                                   &

The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne                                            &

Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne,                                                &

And smale foweles maken melodye,                                                   &

That slepen al the nyght with open eye-                                                &

So priketh hem Nature in hir corages-                                                  &

Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages                                            &

And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes                                        &

To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;                                            &

And specially, from every shires ende                                                    &

Of Engelond, to Caunturbury they wende,                                              &

The hooly blisful martir for the seke                                                        &

That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seeke.                                  &


From the Parsons Prologue

Line 46-60 (play Lines)

46:     I wol yow telle a myrie tale in prose                                                         &

47:     To knytte up al this feeste, and make an ende.                                          &

48:     And jhesu, for his grace, wit me sende                                                      &

49:     To shewe yow the wey, in this viage,                                                         &

50:     Of thilke parfit glorious pilgrymage                                                             &

51:     That highte jerusalem celestial.                                                                    &

52:     And if ye vouche sauf, anon I shal                                                               &

53:     Bigynne upon my tale, for which I preye                                                      &

54:     Telle youre avys, I kan no bettre seye.                                                         &

55:     But nathelees, this meditacioun                                                                     &

56:     I putte it ay under correccioun                                                                      &

57:     Of clerkes, for I am nat textueel;                                                                   &

58:     I take but the sentence, trusteth weel.                                                            &

59:     Therfore I make protestacioun                                                                      &

60:     That I wol stonde to correccioun.                                                                  &


Franklin Reading from General Prologue

(play all lines335-50)


335.        To lyven in delit was evere his wone;                   &

336.        For he was Epicurus owene sone,                        &

337.        That heeld opinioun that pleyn delit                       &

338.        Was verraily felicitee parfit,                                    &

339.        An housholdere, and that a greet, was he;              &

340.        Seint Julian was he in his contree.                           &

341.        His breed, his ale, was alweys after oon,                &

342.        A bettre envyned man was nowher noon.               &

343.        Withoute bake mete was nevere his hous,               &

344.        Of fissh and flessh, and that so plentevous,              &

345.        It snewed in his hous of mete and drynke,                &

346.        Of alle deyntees that men koude thynke.                  &

347.        After the sondry sesons of the yeer                          &

348.        So chaunged he his mete and his soper.                    &

349.        Ful many a fat partrich hadde he in muwe,                 &

350.        And many a breem and many a luce in stuwe.             &


More from the General Prologue

(Play lines


725.        But first I pray yow, of youre curteisye,                      &

726.        That ye narette it nat my vileynye,                               &

727.        Thogh that I pleynly speke in this mateere                   &

728.        To telle yow hir wordes and hir chere,                        &

729.        Ne thogh I speke hir wordes proprely.                        &

730.        For this ye knowen also wel as I,                                 &

731.        Who-so shal telle a tale after a man,                             &

732.        He moot reherce as ny as evere he kan                         &

733.        Everich a word, if it be in his charge,                             &

734.        Al speke he never so rudeliche or large;                         &

735.        Or ellis he moot telle his tale untrewe,                             &

736.        Or feyne thyng, or fynde wordes newe.                           &

737.        He may nat spare, al thogh he were his brother,               &

738.        He moot as wel seye o word as another.                          &

739.        Crist spak hym-self ful brode in Hooly Writ,                     &

740.        And, wel ye woot, no vileynye is it.                                   &

741.        Eek Plato seith, who so can him rede,                                &

742.        The wordes mote be cosyn to the dede.                             &



The Summoner's Prologue

       'Now, sire,' quod he, 'han freres swich a grace    &
20 That noon of hem shal come to this place?' &  
         'Yis,' quod this angel, 'many a millioun!' &  
  And unto Sathanas he ladde hym doun. &  
  'And now hath Sathanas,' seith he, 'a tayl &  
  Brodder than of a carryk is the sayl. &  
25 Hold up thy tayl, thou Sathanas!' quod he; &  
  'Shewe forth thyn ers, and lat the frere se &  
Where is the nest of freres in this place!' &
  And er that half a furlong wey of space, &  
  Right so as bees out swarmen from an hyve, &  
30 Out of the develes ers ther gonne dryve &  
  Twenty thousand freres on a route, &  
  And thurghout helle swarmed al aboute, &  
  And comen agayn as faste as they may gon, &  
  And in his ers they crepten everychon. &  
35 He clapte his tayl agayn and lay ful stille. &  


Franklin's prologue

Thise olde gentil britouns in hir dayes
Of diverse aventures maden layes,
Rymeyed in hir firste briton tonge;
Whiche leyes with hir instrumentz songe,
Or elles redden hem for hir plesaunce,
And oon of hem have I in remembraunce,
Which I shal seyn with good wyl as I kan.
But, sires, by cause I am a burel man,
At my bigynnyng first I yow biseche,
Have me excused of my rude speche.
I lerned nevere rethorik, certeyn;
Thyng that I speke, it moot be bare and pleyn.
I sleep nevere on the mount of pernaso,
Ne lerned marcus tullius scithero.
Colours ne knowe I none, withouten drede,
But swiche colours as growen in the mede,
Or elles swiche as men dye or peynte.
Colours of rethoryk been to me queynte;
My spririt feeleth noght of swich mateere.
But if yow list, my tale shul ye heere.